Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I Refuse To Be Ashamed Of Good Financial Sense

A recently had a situation where I needed to say to multiple people that before I could commit to spending $150 on an outing, I needed to talk to my husband. I casually mentioned that it was over the $100 limit that I could spend without talking to him about it first.

I received an assortment of reactions. One looked at me with what could only be called pity and said, "You need your husband's permission?"   One got very indignant on my behalf and told me that I should not have to ask permission to spend my own money. He would never put up with that. The third looked confused and asked, "Why would you need to do that?"

Overwhelmingly, their responses suggested that I should feel ashamed by the idea that I could not just write a check for $150.

Except this is not a rule that my husband instituted or that only applies to me. I was an active participant in making of the family rule that neither of us can spend over $100 on something without discussing it with the other.

We each have our own jobs; each make our own money.  We have a joint account that we have regular amounts transferred in to pay bills and the remains belong to each of us individually. This money is ours to do with as we please. The regular transfers account for monthly bills plus extra for savings and the maintenance fund.  If something extreme happens, we may need to transfer some additional funds but otherwise this is our own money.

That does not mean that we should spend it wildly. It does not mean that we should be absolved of all reason or spend it like it is just extra money. The $100 rule means that if either of us starts spending large sums of money, the other is aware of it. It keeps us from having any hidden vices that may surprise the other.   We do not want to treat our money like it is Monopoly money.

Every one needs their own money that they can spend on silly things or things that are only important to them. It is important as an adult to feel like you can make your own financial choices. But we are still part of a couple and money is still an important part of our future and we make the major decisions together. Even if it occasionally means that I have to explain the rule.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Follow Your Curiosity

I like to follow the chain of my curiosity.

I was listening to Blink by Malcolm Gladwell on audio book last week and he mentioned a study done by Dr. Gottman. Dr. Gottman had couples come in and asked them to discuss a tense issue in their marriage. He had them talk for 15 minutes and filmed it. He later went back and went over the footage frame by frame. He was able to predict with 94% accuracy which couples would end up divorced.  This was after only 15 minutes of observing them.

Well that sounded fascinating so off I went to the library and requested, Why Marriages Fail and How Yours Can Succeed by Dr. John Gottman.

This got me thinking about how often I find myself reading books or reading articles online or listening to audio books because I ended up there from somewhere else.

I think it is a common enough practice online. You are on Facebook and someone has posted an Upworthy article. You click on the link and read that article. Off to the side, there are several more articles.  Next thing you know you are looking at slam poetry videos on Youtube and wondering how you got there.

While I sometimes end up in places I do not want to be or viewing or reading things that annoy me, I have to say overall, I think this is a good thing.

It is important to exercise your brain; to follow your curiosity.   Go ahead and check out that next topic; that next video.

Curiosity may have killed the cat but satisfaction brought him back.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Why Did They Feel The Need To Cheat On Their Own Test?

A few years back, I took the Pepsi Challenge at a music festival. Pepsi was not handling it themselves but rather had hired a marketing firm to do it for them. The challenge, if you have not heard of it, is to blind taste test Pepsi vs Coke.  

It was a hot summer day; probably in the 90s. I got in line for the challenge simply because I wanted a cold drink and the drink lines were long. 

When I got to the front, the man went to a little fridge plugged into a long extension cord and pulled out a frosty can. The label was covered but the can was obviously cold. He then turned around and pulled another can out of a cardboard box sitting in the heat. This label, too, was covered.

He poured me a little sip size cup of each. I knew right away the first one was Pepsi for two reasons.

1) Pepsi has a burst of citrus-like taste to it when you first sip it.


2) It was frosty cold while the second one was beyond warm. This was, after all, the Pepsi Challenge.

The second cup contained the overly warm and therefore, not at all appetizing, Coke.

In those circumstances, I had to say, "Yes, I preferred the first one." and low and behold, he took the sleeve off the can and it was revealed as Pepsi.

I did not walk away from that thinking, "Wow, I should switch to Pepsi." I walked away thinking, "They had to cheat to beat Coke." Now as I said, this was not Pepsi themselves, but rather an outside firm. I'm sure they simply wanted to give their customer data that made them look good but to me it was a cheat.

I am reminded of this now because I am reading Blink by Malcolm Gladwell and in it, he talks about how Coke did their own blind taste test and found it was true. Based on just one sip, people preferred Pepsi. It is when drinking a full can or bottle that people tend to prefer Coke. Pepsi, Gladwell says, is sweeter and therefore, people prefer it when drinking small amounts but tend to prefer Coke when drinking large amounts.

So Pepsi tended to win the sip challenge and yet this company still felt the need to cheat. I guess they did not have a lot of faith in their own test. It's too bad. If nothing else, we should be able to have faith in our own plans. Plus the thought that they had cheated just left a bad taste in my mouth.